As the Fundraising Preference Service goes live today, the Fundraising Regulator has moved to clear up comments made by its own chairman Lord Grade, including an admission that industry body can only report charities to the Information Commissioner’s Office for non-compliance if the person complaining asks it to do so.
The regulator has been forced to clarify how the service will run following a series of media interviews with Grade, in which he appeared to overstate the powers of both the FPS and the regulator by saying people could opt-out of all charity marketing. He also claimed charities could face fines of up £25,000 if they failed to adhere to the rules. The move has even sparked calls for the Grade to step down.
The FPS, first recommended in the Etherington Review of fundraising self-regulation published in September 2015, was originally intended to allow consumers cut off all communication from all charities, but this idea was abandoned following a consultation process.
It will still allow members of the public to opt out of communication from as many charities as they like, although they will only be allowed to select three at a time.
It will apply to communications to charities via email, phone, text and addressed direct mail. It will cover communications to an individual, rather than a phone number or address, and it will be mandatory to all charities. However, if a person changes their mind the FPS cannot take them off the file, they will have to contact the charity themselves.
The service continues to draw criticism from many in the sector, amid claims that it unfairly singles out charities, which already have to adhere to the Telephone Preference Service and Mail Preference Service, and that it is is an unnecessary financial burden for the industry.
Fundraising Regulator chief executive Stephen Dunmore said: “The FPS will give individuals unprecedented control of their contact with charities and will enable members of the public to manage their consent. This service is crucial in an age when individuals can be contacted in far more ways, and with far more regularity, than ever before.
“The FPS will help further rebuild trust between members of the public and the charity sector. However, it is not a silver bullet, progress is being made in how charities go about their fundraising, yet there is still much to be done.”
Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: “The launch of the FPS is an important milestone that gives people more control over how they are contacted by named charities. Charities and voluntary organisations do an incredible job for good causes across the country and this service will help them continue to fundraise responsibly, while protecting people from receiving unwanted requests.”
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